He and She, In His Image

Then God said, “Let us make man* in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”So God created man in his own image,in the image of God he created him;male and female he created them.And God blessed them. Genesis 1:26-28a

A Christ-centered marriage between a husband and wife is not only the foundation to a successful home, but to a successful culture, a successful world. In today’s views that can’t be a more close-minded, intolerant statement, but an era’s point of view cannot make right wrong, regardless of how unpopular and seemingly unaccepted the truth is. God is higher than man, and therefore His Word superior to man’s opinion. No matter what the date might be, His Word is unchanging… eternal.

If you believe the Bible is God’s inspired message to us, than this passage of scripture leaves no doubt or confusion as to why marriage is preserved for a man and woman. …in the image of God He created him, male and female he created them.  When a man and woman are joined together in holy matrimony, they are as close to the reflection of God as any human being can be. God does not tell us he created man alone in his image. He created man and woman in his image. If it is not a man and a woman in a marriage, the whole of that marriage is missing out on character traits of the Creator. Only together are a man and a woman fulfilling the representation of the likeness of God.  Man has been given character traits that are reflective of God, but not every character trait. Woman has been given character traits of God, but not every character trait. They must join like a well designed puzzle in order to complete the likeness. How much easier it is to understand why God does not ever want the marriage torn apart. It is as if a picture of the character of God is being ripped in half.

Let’s cling to the Truth of God’s Word and not be confused or influenced by the times we live in. Marriage is to be lived out with a male and female, given over to the authority of Christ, being sanctified and perfected until death do we part. When that biblical model is lived out, life will go well. Then there is hope for the generation born from this model, as they are trained up in the way they should go, learning to live under the greatest command to love God with all their heart, soul and mind, and learning to love their neighbors as themselves. As Christians, we are to do our part in our world, regardless of what the world around us chooses to do. Our choice to live a biblically disciplined life, to work through the common trials of marriage and to raise up a godly generation will be the greatest testimony to the character of God. We cannot be perfect or sinless, but we can, as a married couple, be complete in the eyes of God, and He will sustain us and equip us to live as witnesses to His Character.

Prayer: Lord God, you are holy and perfect, and often times my marriage is very far from that. Please help my spouse and I to be more dedicated, devoted examples of your love, your justice, your mercy and grace, your holiness and perfection in our marriage. Not by our strength, but by the strength that comes through Christ in us. Help us to be witnesses to the world and bless us and give us the grace to raise up a generation who will honor you with their lives. We ask this in Jesus name. Amen.

Sharon Cannavo

Glorify God and Enjoy Him Forever

Our Purpose for Parenting   Sharon Cannavo

[Rev. 4:11] “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honor and power,

for you created all things,

and by your will they existed and were created.”

[Psalm 33:1,21] Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous!

Praise befits the upright.

For our heart is glad in him,

because we trust in his holy name.

A Christian’s chief goal in life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Therefore, the key to a blessed family life begins and ends with this primary truth.

My sons, Torre and Michael were ages 3 and 1. Torre was sweet and compliant, making me believe that I could truly be nominated for mother of the year. When Michael came along, he was sweet and unbelievably disobedient, making me bow my face to the floor and beg God for instructions in parenting, and His mercy to see me through the next 5 minutes! Suddenly, my views on parenting seemed feeble at best and my confidence as a mother vanished like the steam rising from my constantly refilled cup of coffee! I was exhausted, baffled, and suddenly finding myself wondering why God had trusted me with motherhood!  I knew I would be lost in “the experts” vast theories and personal convictions if I did not seek out completely biblical instruction in parenting. So I resisted all the highly recommended secular parenting books and advice, and began to search the Bible for my answers, finding applicable truths on a daily basis.  It also helped greatly that there were some who had gone ahead of me, writing biblically sound books on Christian parenting. Though I had not been an avid reader in the past, I now found myself almost inhaling the biblical advice of God’s Word and these biblically-based parenting authors. More than two decades later, with 3 precious children establishing themselves in their adult lives, I am blessed and overcome by the grace God lavished on me (and them!) in order to direct my path as the mother of these children. And, as I look back, the most direct and effective piece of advice was this: Glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

As you begin this day of parenting, start by asking God to help you understand better who He is and how you can glorify and enjoy Him in your day. Your prayer for this will begin that process. He will honor your hearts desire to make Him the focus of your day, above all else including your children. You are likely to see an immediate change in how you approach and respond to your children.


Lord, you are our Creator. You love me, and You love my/Your children even more than I do. I will praise you and thank you for your faithfulness and grace! I will spend my day focused on you, with an attitude of joy and praise despite any of my circumstances, because of your glory, honor and power! I will trust all the details of my day to You, because I trust in Your holy name!  Lord, may I glorify You and enjoy you forever!  Amen

Solving Mealtime Madness

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-little-cute-blonde-boy-refuses-to-eat-cereal-image29231022We are often asked about mealtime and how to get kids to eat. Here are some recommendations.

To start, be careful not to overwhelm your child with a large plate of food.  Kids don’t really want a huge meal.  When giving them their meal, be careful to put only a few (maybe three) bites of each course on the plate.  Teach them the one-bite-no-thank-you rule.  That is, they must take at least one bite of each course.  If after they have their one bite, they do not want to finish that course, allow them to say “no thank you”, and move on to the other courses.  Kids must be introduced to foods multiple times before they will actually develop a taste for it.  Be sure not to give them seconds if they didn’t finish all of their meal.  So if they want more mashed potatoes, but didn’t finish their broccoli, you will hold off on the potatoes.  When and if they finish the entire meal, use lots of words of encouragement, so they feel the victory in finishing. Even though we want to train our child to eat the family meal, (in other words, don’t make a meal for you and hubby and a separate meal for children), be careful that the flavors aren’t too adult. As adults, our taste buds are dulled, so we tend to use lots of spices.  Kids are super sensitive with keen taste buds. Strong flavors are just too much for them. Try to season lightly, then add at the table whatever extra seasoning/spices you and your spouse may want.
Set the timer at the beginning of the meal, giving your child a reasonable time to eat what’s on the plate. Maybe 5-10 minutes longer than it takes the adults. Whatever he does not finish is peaceably cleared along with your plates. There should be NO consequence for not eating. Follow these guidelines for all meals.
Here’s the key.  If getting your child to eat meals is a problem, then between meals your child should not have snacks.  No snacks or drinks (milk, juice, etc.) with the exception of water.  Please note: this will not apply to children with health issues like diabetes, etc, or under a doctors orders to follow a different routine for eating. The biggest issue is the mid-meal snacking. With tiny appetites, we end up sabotaging our kids for meal time.  In fact, we even use food as a diversion, just to keep them quiet or content while we are trying to accomplish our tasks.  This is not helping our children.  When our children can count on their food coming three times a day, which by the way is a complete luxury compared to most in the world, they will appreciate the food they are offered and will eat more of what’s on their plate. In fact if you only put a few bites of each course, you will eventually hear him ask for more :0). In the beginning there may be some stubborn refusal, but as he learns that he will not have any snacks to get him through to the next meal, he will begin to appreciate the next meal.
Once your child has established good eating habits at meal time, you may reintroduce very small healthy snacks between meals. If you notice the meal time habits are being affected, make the healthy snacks even smaller, or go back to no snacks. Sugar is our bodies arch enemy. Try to eliminate any sugar from your child’s diet. You will see the appetite for good foods increase, and  resistance to illness will greatly improve. Even  behavior will radically improve, depending on how much sugar was actually in the diet prior to this change.
We, at Training Hearts for Jesus hope this will help bring peace to family mealtimes, and great health to your sweet children!!

When We Don’t Know Why

I read through the Bible every year.  Last year was so difficult due to the fact that Mario and I both lost our moms to cancer; Mario’s mom in April, and mine in September.  The grief and sadness was almost so overwhelming, there were many times during the year that I could not even hear the Lord through His word due to the events in our life.  But I kept trying to read, believing that God knows my weaknesses and will do in me, through His word, what He wants.  There will be more years like this, I’m sure, but I’m so grateful He’s in charge of those years and not me.  My only responsibility is to obey.  He will do the rest.

 As of January 1st, I once again began my journey through the Bible.  To me it is exciting how reading the Word every year still brings surprise and new revelations.  I am so blessed to be back in a place of being able to hear the Lord through His Word, and grateful for His consistency to bring me through the deep waters of grief.  Even some of the toughest chapters in the Bible are bringing new little glimpses of His faithfulness. Yesterday, as I was reading through the book of Numbers (not the most exciting book in most of our minds), and specifically chapter 4, the duties of the Kohathites (have I lost you yet?).  The directions were being given to Moses and Aaron regarding the taking down of “the tent of meeting”.  It’s so easy to get lost in the tiny details of a chapter like this and take a little mini-mental-vacation.  God was able to hold my attention and showed me the smallest little detail that has been encouraging my heart ever since I spotted it.  The text explains how each section and piece of the “most holy things” are to be packed up by the Kohathites.  They were responsible to follow every instruction to the smallest detail, and not to question why.  Literally, their lives could be at stake through this process of obedience!  This was serious!  I was noticing how each object was being covered with a blue cloth.  Biblically, blue represents Heaven, so this made total sense to me, as I’m sure it did to Moses, Aaron and the Kohathites.  Then I came to “the table of the bread of the Presence with the plates, the dishes for incense, the bowls, and the flagons for the drink offering: the regular showbread also shall be on it.” which would also be covered with a cloth of blue (Numbers 4:7). However, this one time, the instructions went on to say, “Then they shall spread over them a cloth of scarlet…”  Scarlet? Scarlet in the Bible refers to the blood and/or the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  I couldn’t help but spend time dwelling on that verse and thinking about John 6:41:

 “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”

 Not to mention the institution of the Lord’s Supper, such as in Luke 22, as Jesus took the cup…

“this cup which is poured out is the new covenant in my blood.”  (Luke 22:20)

 and the bread…

 “this is my body, which is given for you”  (Luke 22:19)

 I love the idea that Moses, Aaron and the Kohathites were given instructions to follow obediently, that may not have made any sense to them at all.  Why was the table of Presence, with the bread and drink offering, to be covered additionally with a cloth of scarlet?  For some reason this struck me so deeply regarding man’s unquestioning obedience to God’s instructions, whether they/we understand it or not, and God’s sovereignty, omniscience and faithfulness to His people.  It was God’s secret message (the mystery) that Jesus, the Bread of life, the Drink Offering which was to be poured out for us, who are stiff-necked and faithless, would and has come.  It was a written letter that God had salvation planned out, and these were the physical symbols of the Savior to come which He generously showed His people because He is good and faithful.

 As I struggled through a year of sadness, and a year of reading words that I could not seem to hear, it was more about my obedience to do it, than the sense of the message I could receive from it.  I’m sure some of you have experienced this.  Again… God knew my condition and my weaknesses.  It was one of those moments in my life that He was saying to me, cover everything in a blue cloth (which were all the things that made sense to me) but cover this one thing in blue and scarlet cloths, whether it makes sense to you or not.  Just do it. Practice obedience, for I am faithful and know why I’m asking you to do it.  I have a plan, and I have given you a Savior that faithfully loves you enough to be poured out and sacrificed for you.  And… that’s all that matters.  Just obey.

 Everyday we encounter opportunities to do what God has instructed us to do in His word, especially in regards to parenting our children.  So many times we understand some of these things; like teaching our children to consider others better than themselves (the blue covering), going on a blessing hunt (the blue covering), or teaching them about the circle of blessing (the blue covering).  But often times in our day we are instructed to do with our children what is not comfortable or does not make sense, such as,

 Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. Proverbs 13:24

 This is an example of the blue covering with the scarlet covering.  This is often the time that we are to obey just because God said it, and we know He is faithful! He has a perfect plan for our children, and we can trust that He loves us, and them… even more than we do!  We can obey His instructions to us, because these that we do not understand are symbols of His faithfulness to be revealed in the future of our children’s lives.  If He instructed it, we need to just do it, relying on His perfect love and knowing that someday He will bless us with understanding and the fruit of our obedience.

 Make me understand the way of Your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.  Psalms 119:27

Sharon Cannavo

Regina Jones: Oct. Update

Regina Jones, Missionary to Zimbabwe has utilized the Training Hearts for Jesus curriculum in so many productive and fruitful venues.  Read about how this class is making a difference in Zimbabwe:

Be sure to click on this link below to read Regina’s exciting update in its entirety:

Refuge Newsletter OCTOBER 2011

Regina Jones Sept. Update

Click this link to review the entire Refuge Newsletter SEPTEMBER 2011

Exciting News from Regina Jones and Training Hearts for Jesus!

As the Lord moves in Zimbabwe, and Regina Jones is used in such a mighty way, please pray for her!  Her faithful work is making a huge difference in the lives of a nation!!

From Regina Jones to Sharon Cannavo November 15 at 8:58am Report

Ok, well I have some exciting news and I just can’t wait to tell you so I am going to give you a short update…

There is an organization here (Zimbabwe) called Ladies of Purpose. And they are Christians from all over Harare (over 200 ladies from many different churches) and they have asked me to come do a TWO DAY introduction to Training Hearts so that they can share about the classes with their church!

Then, One of the ladies from that group that HASN’T even taken the class yet– only heard about it– called me for a meeting and we chatted. She shared with me that she is taking her children (2 kids aged 6 and 11) out of a local private christian school and homeschooling them. She is taking the teacher training for ACE (AMERICAN CHRISTIAN EDUCATION program) so that she can teach her children herself so that she can ensure that her kids are being taught around Christian morals… and her husband (who is a pastor) said “I think that you should open the program up to other kids”– this is quite a common program used here. And she is opening her own home school. She is the only teacher so she has to start this first term with only 10 students, but she’s very excited.

She’s a social worker and has been working at “Childline” an organization that runs a helpline for child abuse. She wants her school to have a counseling component but also wants to take the class and only accept students whose families have participated in Training Hearts!!!

So many exciting things have happened!
THEN, the lady who wants to start the homeschool, who works at Childline set up a meeting with the director of the organization today. Childline is not a Christian organization and the director is NOT a christian but she asked me to teach her about the curriculum and she afterwards (2 hours into it with all the questions) she asked me to consider TRAINING all of their volunteers… the people who answer the crisis line AND the community volunteers who investigate the reports of abuse!
(66 comm vols) and (100 helpline vols)

This organization got 26,000 calls last month and investigates all abuse cases because social welfare has no money, resources or a desire to help.
I am so excited to hear your thoughts about this… but the director felt that if the volunteers are trained in this course they can offer support and encouragement from a place of Biblical knowledge for the families they are involved with and that eventually as this training reaches more and more of the communities it will serve as CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION!!!!
I was so encouraged to hear the interest that a nonchristian heading a nonchristian organization would have in Training Hearts!!

I just wanted to send you the news, in case you were needing a little encouragement today!!

Love you!

PS… they also want to qualify the date and study the effects this training has on the communities so that in the future we could get grant funding to teach it to MORE and MORE families! What do you think???


Rejoicing with Training Hearts for Jesus Graduates!!

I am rejoicing with Regina Jones, as she celebrates with her first Training Hearts for Jesus Graduates from Highfields, Harare!  Transforming homes! Transforming countries!!

I’m Out of Control and Exhausted!


Up at 6:00 a.m., attempting to jump in the shower before the little ones open their eyes.  You wonder if they can hear when you open your eyes, because so often they begin their fussing as soon as you peek at the new day.  So often your day begins before you are spiritually, mentally, or physically prepared.  Once again you feel slightly out of control and a little cheated of that hope for the morning peace, maybe even that short devotional time.  Once again you’re moving at the speed of light, similar to running in front of a fast moving train! If you don’t get them breakfast fast enough, you have fits and tears until the food hits their tongues.  The laundry sits in piles in the hallway, and you can’t seem to get near enough to it to deposit it into the washer because of diaper changes, storybook time and the play dough set-up squeezing out all the tasks that are so vital to keeping your world turning.  You feel discouraged, depressed and defeated!  Has it ever crossed your mind that if only you didn’t have these little ones demanding so many of your designated daily minutes, that your house would feel warm, fresh and inviting?  You’re table would be ready to receive your friends for a slightly sweet cup of tea and the smell of freshly baked coffeecake would sift through the air and fill your home with the invitation for fellowship?  Hmmm….

Have you ever heard or actually stopped to think about Proverbs 14:4?  I love this verse.  As is often true of God’s Word, it has the ability to set my mind straight, comfort me, encourage me and give me the determination to push on for the prize!

Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty,

but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest.

Proverbs 14:4

As we long for that “manger” that is in order and the sweet fellowship around our dining room table, truly what is valuable is the precious task that God has ordained for our lives, to bring up our little “oxen” in the admonition of the Lord.  We have to keep our eyes on what’s to come, not on this present day.  Our manger could be empty and would be peaceful, but what could that do for the Kingdom of God that would be as much a privilege for us as having those little lives trained up to become the next generation’s Christian workers, bringing in the harvest for the furtherance of God’s Kingdom?

Mom, be encouraged!  The hand that rocks the cradle, truly rules the world.  Say “yes” to God and allow Him to use you to impact the lives in your home!  Only then will they make the difference for those who will grow up in homes and schools with no God.  Work to bring your children to the place that their knowledge of the love of Christ will spill out as an offering to the future adults in America, that they may know the living God, and the life of transforming grace. Teach your children to Love God with all their heart, soul and mind, and love their neighbor as themselves (Matt. 22: 37-39) and watch the fruit that will be gathered as a result!

You missed your morning devotions?  After breakfast, sit down with your little ones and share a morning devotional with them.  I have sometimes been more effected by the children’s devotionals than some of my favorites.  Purchase small little baskets, so when it’s time to do the laundry, your little one is by your side helping with his own little basket of laundry.  Allow him to empty the dishwasher (of course previously removing sharp knives or easily breakable items first :0)).  That’s when you have the opportunity to pour into his heart with your words of wisdom, instead of promoting the worldly wisdom of some foolish stranger on television.  If you involve them in the duties of the day, instead of being a distraction, they become a part of the family team.  They will feel so productive, as if they are part of the solution instead of the problem.  Kids love to be an important part of the family!!  They won’t be getting into trouble, just to get your attention.  It will take a little more time and patience for you to get the duties of your day completed, but it beats not doing them at all.  And in the long run, your little ox is growing into the strong ox that will till the fields and gather the fruit for Heaven.  Your investment, your joy, your treasures! It’s so much better than a cup of tea!

Sharon Cannavo

Cornerstone in Zimbabwe???

It’s a NEW update from our sweet missionary, Regina!! How exciting! At this rate, there may be a Cornerstone Community School in Zimbabwe soon! Wow!! So Cool!

Hi Sharon!
So sorry that it’s been so long since I’ve emailed! It has been so crazy busy, and everytime I have had free time there have either been power cuts or the internet has been down. I love having internet on my phone, but its not easy to send real emails from that!
I hope things are going well with your family and with Cornerstone! It sounds like (from Facebook) that things are going well!
Our Training Hearts For Jesus class in Highfields is going so well! I just love it… I look so forward to Monday and Friday! The parents are so into the class, they love what they are learning and are actually putting what they are learning in to practice, it is so encouraging! I feel so good about what is happening, and with our next class we are going to implement parent support groups, and I am going to have some of our fabulous students facilitating the conversations. Because our classes now are mostly “lecture” style (because of the language barriers)it will be good to increase the amount of time that the parents can share their experiences and questions. For the first few classes (the whole 14 week sessions) I will be with them in case there are things that come up that they need help with, but I am so confident that they will be able to handle it!
LEAD, the school that we offer the classes at right now just has a preschool and a Bible college, but they are hoping to open a grade 1 in January (grade 2 and 3 if they can get funding) and then each year after that, they will add a grade. They want to have Training Hearts classes running throughout the year and they will require the parents to come to the class! The pastor and director have been so impressed with the changes they have seen in the families!
One of the mothers in the class, has a child in the preschool and another child in grade 3. Her child in grade 3 was really misbehaving. She was really at her wits end and her marriage was really falling apart. She has thrown herself into the class AND since then, church. Her older son is now one of the most excited and helpful kids in Sunday School. I love watching what is happening in their family. The mother has been elected Secretary of the women’s ministry and has signed up at the college for computer classes. She is so full of joy! She is so thankful for Training Hearts, it makes my heart so happy!
Please keep the babies on your prayer list. We have had a difficult meeting regarding social welfare this week and I really need your prayer regarding God’s direction through the government beaurocracy. There is a new baby that was abandoned last Thursday. She was found on the edge of a river in the biggest high density in Harare. She is so beautiful. They have named her Natalie, she was born probably last Wednesday or Thursday. Please keep all of them in your prayers: Evans, Peterson, Kelsey, Panashe, Mary and Tinotenda. They are all such precious gifts from God.
I really want to find a way to have your parents praying for our parents. I need to be able to send you a picture. Its such a bummer, my camera completely broke- we can’t get anyone to fix it- the repair people think that it’s the gears, so when ROCK sends a team in October I am going to send it back with them to get it fixed, and most of the time my internet is SOOOO slow that it’s hard to upload from my camera, but I will try to make it a point to try this weekend when I have more time to spend on the internet!
Please send prayer requests from your class as well… our students here have been requesting them!!

I love you and am so grateful for the opportunity to teach this curriculum here!

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